Axe Estuary Birds 155: Great White Egret, Grey Heron, Garganey

Axe Estuary Birds No 155  April 30th 2011

NB: The following is reproduced by kind permission of Axe Estuary Birds. Full credit goes to the team that produces the newsletter (see the bottom of the post for specific details). Photographs are credited throughout the text although we are working to preserve the original layout wherever possible in the future.

The Birds

We have had a summer plumaged Great White Egret on Seaton Marshes Lagoon on the 19th, and Sue Smith was as ever handy with her camera.  The Grey Heron seems a bit put out by the intruder!  Sue also caught this Garganey at BHM.

Photo Steve Waite                                    Photo Sue Smith Photo Karen Woolley


There  was another rare Heron on patch, a Purple Heron found by Phil Abbot and photographed by Steve Waite and Sue Smith from Colyford Common Hide on Saturday 23rd Steve says “Not only was the light perfect, and the plumage of the bird tip top, but the views were just fantastic! It sat out in full view for the entire time – I reckon it was a bit knackered  after its flight from wherever it has come from.”    Last, but not least, there was a White Stork at Colyford Common on 26th .  What a week.                                              

Silvio Davison, on holiday from Italy, told me there were three birds he particularly wanted to see – Guillemot, Razor Bill and Puffin.  I said he would be very lucky if he did, but he did see a Guillemot over Seaton Bay on 21st and he also saw his first Razor Bill and first Puffin from Portland Bill.  A very productive trip for him.


This weekend as you know was our first ‘back-to-back’ session, starting early and finishing at dusk. Not as many birds caught as expected by some of us, but 87 of 18 species, plus 4 Blackbird pulli, was a reasonable start. Perhaps we were a little early to take advantage of most migrants that had yet to arrive. The weekend was split into four sessions from Friday (catching time 17.00hrs until dusk, Saturday dawn until midday and until dusk and Sunday dawn until midday. The number of birds caught at each of these sessions was 20 (8), 21 (9), 28 (9) and 18 (13), respectively. Of the total those retraps/control are shown in brackets. The control was a Blackcap caught on Saturday morning so it will be interesting to ascertain when it was first ringed and where. The totals for the three days are as follows:

Song Thrush 2(1); Linnet 2; Chaffinch 4(1); Robin 1; Willow Warbler 1; Long-tailed Tit (1); Reed Bunting 8(3); Greenfinch 6; Blue Tit 4(1); Blackcap 6(1); Great Tit 5(3); Wren 10(7); Dunnock 9(8); Blackbird 7(5); Reed Warbler 6(5); Sedge Warbler 6(1); Goldfinch 5(1); and Chiffchaff 4(1). Interesting that the retrap migrant, with the exception of the Blackcap, had been ringed by us in previous years.

A small catch of ten birds at the session on 28th. Blackbird 2(1); Sedge Warbler 3; Dunnock (1); Wren 2(1); Chaffinch 1; Blue Tit (1).

News from Holyford Woods

After an absence of two weeks, I was amazed how the bluebells had developed and not just them but everything else.  The red campion was well advanced, as were the ramsons (wild garlic), there was a good show of early purple orchids along the top of Holyford Coppice, and the spindle trees there were in leaf and had flower buds showing. Everywhere the trees are bursting into fresh green leaf. The Roe Buck was feeding alone, as now is the time the does will have their young.  I will be on the look-out for them.  I was very pleased to see tadpoles along the edge of Top Pool in spite of not seeing any spawn there earlier. Unfortunately here the parrot feather weed is greening up after a severe cut-back from the cold and snow.  The Moorhens have had 5 young. On the newly cleared bank I watched a pair of Orange Tip butterflies flitting around, and  2 Peacock sunbathing.  A  Green-veined White and 2 Speckled Wood were busy around a sunny patch of bluebells.  Activity among the birds is intense, and the Woods ring with bird song  and calls now. It is the best time to visit any time of day. Jean Kreiseler

The Trivia

Bob Olliver writes “I also heard Cuckoo on Aylesbeare but mine was on the 21st of April.  On the same occasion I came across a Carrion Crow on the tarmac track ‘attacking’ an adder. This week, on the 26th, when we returned from our visit to the hide and a walk in Holyford woods, we found a Hummingbird Hawk Moth in the garden feeding on aubrietia.  This seemed rather early although my books say that they can appear in any month but tend to be seen first in June.”

Simon Wakely sent this picture of a charismatic little Dunnock we often take for granted.


And now for news, which has little to do with the Axe Estuary, except it all come from local residents!


R Molony sent this “My sister in Muizeberg, Cape Town sent these photos. I am waiting to hear from her what the red liquid is!!  Beautiful birds!!”  And the answer? “They’re drinking food coloured sugar water with a little Bovril!!!!!  Today 3 Orange Breasted Sunbirds were drinking there and the White Eyes and Sunbirds even share now!”


And Jean Kreiseler’s recent trip to Botswana produced this Hippo which she reckons would add interest to the BHM Lagoon.  Perhaps climate change will bring them back.


This rogue Elephant is in a South African game park, sent to Howard and Anne West from a friend in Australia, puts our vandals to shame!

Diary Dates

Wednesday 11th May    5pm – 7pm        Birds from the Tram with Don Cotton.  Book and pay £7.50 each, in advance with Seaton
Tramway on 01297 20375.

Saturday      14th May   5am – 7am         Dawn Chorus and Breakfast and Introduction to Bird Ringing. Field Studies Base BHM.
This is followed by a ringing session, which you are welcome to watch.

Sunday        22nd May   5pm – 7pm        Birds from the Tram with Ian Waite.  Book and pay £7.50 each, in advance with Seaton
Tramway on 01297 20375.

This twice-monthly email newsletter is freely available to anyone who would like it, as is a periodic one about the activities of the East Devon Local Group of the Devon Wildlife Trust.  Just send me an email with Axe Estuary Birds and/or East Devon DWT in the subject line.  Also, for those without a computer, I will send a copy by post if you would like to send me some stamps.

Thanks to those who keep me informed.  Please continue to tell me of any unusual, interesting or amusing sightings, and what is about locally, and send any photos you would like to share.

Mike, Jean and David.  (and many others!)   tel. 01297 552616  Mobile 0779 1541 744.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *